6 Cheap Ways to Practice Self-Care, According to Finance Experts

published Oct 18, 2020
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A friend once told me that her best self-care tip was to overestimate the time that it takes her to do most tasks. As a result, she doesn’t feel rushed and stressed throughout the day and she usually ends up with extra pockets of time to simply relax.

Her take on self-care was refreshing because so often, self-care, a $10 billion industry, is seen as synonymous with splurging. Sure, self-care might occasionally come in the form of a deep-tissue massage or gifting yourself an expensive face serum. But at the heart of it, self-care isn’t something that should be considered an out-of-reach luxury to indulge in every now and again. Incorporating self-care in your daily life may look more practical: Booking a dental cleaning, spending some extra time in the morning packing a healthy lunch, creating a budget, or decluttering your home, for example.

“The ultimate expression of self-love and thus, self-care, is found within ourselves, not in spending oodles of money on material things,” says Amanda Kaphammer, who used her banking and wealth management background to start SIMPL wealth, a financial education and mentoring business.

Self-care, she says, can be reduced to simply creating time to pursue meaningful activities like walks in nature and having daily rituals that nurture your health, like eating breakfast and meditating at the start of your day and decompressing with a cup of tea before bed. 

Here, financial experts share best self-care tips—with the condition that they not involve spending a ton of money.

Schedule self-care

Carve out time in your calendar each day to do something you look forward to, and follow through on it, Kaphammer says. This could include going outside or cooking a meal you enjoy. It might be drawing a bath, tossing in some Epsom salts and lighting a candle, she says. 

Go on a mindful walk

Walking and repeating positive affirmations to yourself—known as mindful walking—is one of the simplest methods to improve your physical and spiritual health, says Dasha Kennedy, a millennial financial coach and founder of The Broke Black Girl Facebook group, which promotes financial literacy and career advancement resources to women of color.

Usually, when people are walking, she says, they are on their way to something, or their mind is busy thinking about a task ahead of them or a person they are going to meet. “Mindful walking, though, helps you declutter your mind, move without a purpose and focus on what’s in front of you instead of what is around you,” Kennedy says. 

Credit: I Spy DIY

Have at-home spa days

You may have already gotten in the habit of DIY blowouts, facials, and mani and pedis amid coronavirus closures. But investing in a few beauty tools upfront, whether it’s a facial cleansing brush or a pedicure kit, can help you enjoy more at home spa days and save you money in the long run, says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “You can find a variety of products to prove professional-like results at different price points,” she says. Here are some fresh, homemade mask recipes for all different skin types and that you can make with items in your fridge and pantry. 

Use the 50/20/30 rule to determine how much you can spend on self-care

“Prioritizing self-care practices, and factoring them into your budget, has always been one of my biggest tips for clients, and this year has really forced us all to recognize the importance of that,” says Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner with personal finance app Mint

Again, what self care looks like can vary by person, but it might be hiring a professional licensed therapist or carving out time to do a day trip into nature, she says. The idea? Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and be sure to consider self-care when you map out your budget. 

Castro recommends the 50/20/30 rule for breaking down your income so that 50 percent goes for fixed expenses, 20 percent for savings and 30 percent for variable expenses.

“The 30 percent can include all forms of self-care from spa treatments, to dinner out, to therapy sessions,” she says. “Whatever you chose as your self-care, it’s smart to budget these items into your cash flow in addition to your savings goals and find that optimal balance.”

Focus on what leaves you feeling calm

Try this exercise: Make a list of all the activities that leave you feeling calmest, most together and centered, suggests Scarlett McCarthy, the founder of Literally Broke,  a personal finance platform for artists and creatives.

“While shopping or splurging on self-care items can leave you with a high, it often doesn’t last long,” she says. 

Rather, the activities that usually make us feel the best are usually the simple ones like meditating, journaling, exercising, and making a gratitude list. 

Get more sleep

One in three Americans don’t get enough sleep. Yet logging an adequate amount of ZZZ’s will help you stay healthy and have more energy and focus during the day, says Willita Cherie, personal finance coach and founder of Build Young Grow Wealthy. Try setting an alarm in the evening to remind yourself that it’s time to start winding down and getting ready for bed. Cherie recommends having a solid morning routine that can start your day off on a positive note. “This can include reading, prayer, meditation, taking a walk or run, or having a cup of coffee with a friend or significant other,” she says.